Sales of micro and mini-turbines across Europe, the Middle East and Africa have not matched the exceptional levels that manufacturers had been predicting, say Frost & Sullivan in a new report.

Although market growth has been substantial, the predominantly US-based manufacturers of micro and mini-turbines have so far failed to trigger a true revolution in the distributed generation market. Procrastination over time-to-market, technical problems and rigorous testing regimes, a prerequisite for large investments, are just some of the reasons behind the delay in the sector’s take-off. The unfavourable price ratio between gas and electricity in Europe has also been stifling the micro-turbine’s largest potential growth sector, cogeneration.

However, the potential for the micro and mini-turbine market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which is now moving into an early stage of market penetration, is nonetheless seen as positive.

Having overcome market initiation hurdles in 2000, the market is set to make a strong debut, with revenues leaping from the current level of around $4 million to over $600 million in 2010. Unit shipments will rise in tandem with revenues, owing to the anticipated increase in average unit output, although this will be tempered by an expectation of decreasing price per kW. Average prices are predicted to fall substantially in the short to medium term, primarily as a result of manufacturers’ cost reductions through increased production output.

Outstanding reliability and low running costs will increasingly appeal. Moreover, good overall efficiency and low maintenance requirements will boost cogeneration and trigeneration applications, while low emissions and electricity market deregulation are also seen as factors promoting growth over the forecast period.

The main thrust of demand for micro and mini-turbines in 2000 was created by process industrial and utility end-users. Electricity service companies, especially those with a natural gas element to their businesses, also exhibit the potential for escalating demand and are primarily interested in applying units in such a way as to supplement their generation capacity with peaking and distributed generation capacity.